Will Predators Lose Their Marbles? Please help me find out

Dear Snap trappers,

I’ve been trying for several years to find one or more solid lures (edible or inedible) to use inside of/on top of the bait cups in my snap traps. It occurred to me a few weeks ago, that white marbles might be the lure that I’ve been searching for.

By combining a sticky base lure (peanut butter, Nutella, etc.) inside a bait cup, with a marble on top of it, trapping rates ought to increase, because snap traps should be far riskier for predators to interact with. More dangerous positions, plus more movements, should equal more mistakes made by predators.

Instead of leaning over a treadle to lick up a lure, a predator that wants to access the lure, has to A) attempt to push the marble off of the bait cup with its snout; B) use its teeth to try to lift the marble; or C) use its paws to lift the marble off of the bait cup.
If a predator is attempting to take the egg, it will use B and/or C.

Predators won’t be able to use their teeth to puncture marbles, so they will probably be difficult to move, since they’re round and have a smooth surface. The marbles are 14mm in diameter, so how many predators are capable of opening their jaws wide enough to hold a marble between their teeth? I couldn’t find any information about how wide any of the target species can open their mouths, so it’s a mystery for now.

I chose to use white marbles, of course, because they resemble small, white eggs. The marbles’ colour and shiny surface, will make them visible in daylight, and they will be easier to see than most lures at night.

If a predator is fooled into believing that the white marble is an egg, the trap becomes far more attractive to it than ones that only contain a standard edible lure. There’s more total food on offer and there’s the opportunity to take the egg to its nest/den. To a predator that’s wary about eating a lure out of a trap, the opportunity to steal an egg, instead, may cause it to enter the tunnel to check things out.

The Technique
In order to make the marbles as hard to move as possible, I fill the bait cup to about 120%, and then press the marble on top, making sure that a ring of the lure can be seen and smelled. I place lure samples at a number of spots within my tunnels, so predators will know what’s underneath the marble.

Using my trapping gloves, I press the marble on top of the lure.

When it’s in place, I use 2 fingers to gently pull on it, to see how much resistance there is. With fresh peanut butter, the amount of effort that it requires to (slowly) pull the marble free is surprising. How much effort and strength would it take for a predator to get a marble out of an armed trap? I’d like your help to find out!

Can predators smell a lure underneath a marble in mice, insects, and slugs/snails have eaten the lure around the marble? I’m going to send some e-mails to try and find out.

To those of you that don’t use snap traps with bait cups, it’s possible that a marble could be placed on top of a layer of a sticky lure. Predators will still have to use their snout, jaws, or paws to move the marble, so it might be an effective lure in all snap traps (fingers crossed). If you start getting kills with a Victor Pro using marbles, let the community know.

Knock 'em dead!

1 Like

In my traps as well as the commercial lure I have an egg and lard. To say that the combo is better than just the commercial lure that drips every day for 10 months till the cartridge runs out is impossible to say but I feel that a selection of food at a party is better than just ice cream.


I didn’t get it finished! I’m going to get it done ASAP.

1 Like

Hmmm, would the base lure (PB or what have you) still smell enough to attract them? When covered with a marble?

1 Like

I fill the bait cup slightly above the top and squish the marble on top of it, so that there’s enough of the lure exposed to be detected. The tunnel will contain pre-feeds leading up to the bait cup. By the time they reach the front of the snap trap, I’m hoping that they’ll either go for the egg-like marble or be able to detect the base lure underneath it. I forgot to attach the photos. I’ll do that right away.


I’ve just e-mailed somebody at Landcare Research. Hopefully he can tell us.